JOB CHAPTER 30.
Job’s Sorrowful Description of His Present State.
JOB COMPLAINS OF THE CONTEMPT HE RECEIVES FROM MEN. — V. 1. But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, foolish and immature youngsters, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock, to put on a level with the lowest shepherds in his employ, mainly on account of their general untrustworthiness and improvidence. V. 2. Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, what use could he possibly make of it, in whom old age was perished, whose mode of living kept them from reaching full manly vigor? V. 3. For want and famine they were solitary, through want and hunger they were starved, their energy and strength were exhausted; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste, they gnaw at the desert, which has long been a waste and a wilderness, affording them only the scantiest living; v. 4. who cut up mallows, the saltwort of the desert, by the bushes, where it led a precarious existence in the shadow of larger bushes, and juniper roots for their meat, a kind of broom-root or furze being their food. V. 5. They were driven forth from among men, excluded from human society, (they cried after them as after a thief, such a hue and cry is raised by the Arab inhabitants of the villages when the vagabonds appear,) v. 6. to dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks, those were the dwelling places of this low class of people, whose youngsters now dared to insult Job as he sat there in great misery. V. 7. Among the bushes they brayed, crying out like the wild ass of the steppes; under the nettles, the brambles of the desert, they were gathered together; like herds of beasts of the wilderness. V. 8. They were children of fools, yea, children of base men, really, no-account men; they were viler than the earth, literally, “who are whipped out of the country,” as useless and dangerous rabble, on the order of vagabonds and gypsies. V. 9. And now am I their song, their shout of mockery and derision, yea, I am their byword, they refer to Job only in a malicious, contemptuous manner. V. 10. They abhor me, they flee far from me, shunning him with a most abject abhorrence, and spare not to spit in my face, as an expression of their unbounded contempt. So greatly had Job been degraded by God. V. 11. Because He hath loosed my cord, God had let loose upon Job the horde of His calamities, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me, men were giving free rein to their violent and hateful attacks upon him. God and men had united in making Job the target of their scorn. V. 12. Upon my right hand rise the youth, a brood of diseases and sufferings, or, the brood of young rascals who were now mocking him; they push away my feet, leaving him no foothold, no place to stand on, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction, besieging him on all sides, making him the object of their assaults. V. 13. They mar my path, tearing it down, making it impassable; they set forward my calamity, promoting it, helping it along as it speeds to Job’s destruction; they have no helper, there is no helper against them, they come on without hindrance. V. 14. They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters, like a wide breach made in a dam or levee; in the desolation, in the midst of the falling ruins, they rolled themselves upon me, like an inrushing army which lays everything low by the force of its impact and assault. v. 15. Terrors are turned upon me, the sudden fear of death; they pursue my soul as the wind, his dignity, his respect, and his influence like a storm; and my welfare passeth away as a cloud, his prosperity has vanished without leaving a trace. Thus Job brings out the great contrast between his former happy state and that of his present deep dishonor.
THE UNSPEAKABLE MISERY AND DISAPPOINTMENT WITH WHICH JOB BATTLED. — V. 16. And now my soul is poured out upon me, dissolved in suffering and anguish; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me, he was in the strong clutches of suffering and found himself unable to shake them off. V. 17. My bones are pierced in me in the night season, the restless night itself, which increases the pains of every affliction, pierces his bones from his body; and my sinews take no rest, literally, “my gnawers, not do they sleep,” a reference either to the gnawing pains throughout his body or to the maggots in his ulcers. V. 18. By the great force of my disease is my garment changed, by God’s fearful power his clothes lost all their semblance, hanging about his shrunken form loose and flapping, more like a sack than a dress; it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat, it no longer stands off properly, but clings to him like a tight-fitting shirt collar. V. 19. He hath cast me into the mire, as an evidence of His great contempt, and I am become like dust and ashes, both on account of the appearance of his skin and the dirt which he had strewn upon himself. V. 20. I cry unto Thee, and Thou dost not hear me, God acted as though He paid no attention to Job’s pleading; I stand up, and Thou regardest me not, looking at him fixedly, indeed, but in the absent-minded manner which made Him lose the import of Job’s complaint. V. 21. Thou art become cruel to me, the Lord changing His nature into that of a cruel tormentor; with Thy strong hand Thou opposest Thyself against me, making war upon him. V. 22 Thou liftest me up to the wind, making him a plaything of the storm; Thou causest me to ride upon it and dissolvest my substance, rending him apart by the fierceness of the tempest. V. 23. For I know that Thou wilt bring me to death, or, “back from the dust of death,” and to the house appointed for all living, where the living assemble, a confident cry in the midst of hopelessness, looking forward to the resurrection of the dead. V. 24. Howbeit, he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction, literally, “But is it not in falling one stretches out his hand, in destruction raises a call for help?” Such actions are the expression of man’s natural, instinctive impulse to save his life if threatened by death, and therefore no one should blame Job for his cry for help. V. 25. Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Was not my soul grieved for the poor? He who showed true sympathy with the poor and miserable in their afflictions would surely not be denied this show of the instinct of self-preservation, this plea for help! V. 26. When I looked for good, then evil came unto me, this being another reason why his craving for help should go unchallenged; and when I waited for light, there came darkness, he had nothing but misfortune to contend with. V. 27. My bowels boiled and rested not, on account of the intense heat of the fever which was devouring him and the torments of his anxiety; the days of affliction prevented me, flinging themselves in his way, encountering him with all fierceness. V. 28. I went mourning without the sun, blackened, not by the heat of the sun, but as a consequence of his illness; I stood up, and I cried in the congregation, complaining aloud on account of the pain of his sufferings. V. 29. I am a brother to dragons, to the jackals of the desert in appearance, and a companion to owls, to the ostriches of the wilderness. V. 30. My skin is black upon me, having become blackened with his sickness, it peeled off his flesh, and my bones are burned with heat, drying up with the heat of his disease. V. 31. My harp also, the lyre, or zither, or lute, as an instrument used upon joyful occasions, is turned to mourning and my organ, the pipe also being an instrument of joy, into the voice of them that weep. All the festive and joyous music, so expressive of Job’s former prosperity, was hushed, and only the tones of sadness and deepest lamentation remained. He had reached a point of degradation and suffering unequaled in the history of the human race.